Myofascial trigger point needling for whiplash associated pain--a feasibility study

Man Ther. 2010 Dec;15(6):529-35. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2010.05.010. Epub 2010 Jun 26.


Clinicians claim that myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) are a primary cause of pain in whiplash injured patients. Pain from MTrPs is often treated by needling, with or without injection. We conducted a placebo controlled study to test the feasibility of a phase III randomised controlled trial investigating the efficacy of MTrP needling in patients with whiplash associated pain. Forty-one patients referred for physiotherapy with a recent whiplash injury, were recruited. Patients were randomised to receive standardised physiotherapy plus either acupuncture or a sham needle control. A trial was judged feasible if: i) the majority of eligible patients were willing to participate; ii) the majority of patients had MTrPs; iii) at least 75% of patients provided completed self-assessment data; iv) no serious adverse events were reported and v) the end of treatment attrition rate was less than 20%. 70% of those patients eligible to participate volunteered to do so; all participants had clinically identified MTrPs; a 100% completion rate was achieved for recorded self-assessment data; no serious adverse events were reported as a result of either intervention; and the end of treatment attrition rate was 17%. A phase III study is both feasible and clinically relevant. This study is currently being planned.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Analgesia / methods*
  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Adult
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / etiology
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Needles*
  • Occupations
  • Pain Measurement
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications
  • Whiplash Injuries / therapy*
  • Young Adult